Frequently Asked Questions

Hiring a Calligrapher

How do I make a request for calligraphy work?

Contact the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa and give us as much information as you can. Key points are:

  • By what date do you need the lettering work completed?
  • What is the volume of work (e.g. number of envelopes)?
  • Do you have a style of lettering in mind, or an example?
  • Do you have the media already (e.g. envelopes, certificate, etc.)?
  • Do you want colour or gold ink used?

The CSO will send out the request to the active calligraphers in Ottawa. We leave it up to them to contact you with a quote or for more information. Our calligraphers are independent who will enter into an agreement with you for calligraphy services. As the CSO has no knowledge of their availability, we make no guarantee on a calligrapher responding to your request.

Will requested work be done by a professional calligrapher?

There are some professional calligraphers in Ottawa and some very talented semi-professionals. Requests for calligraphy are only sent to current members of the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa where they regularly participate in workshops from advanced instructors.

We take great pride in our art and will try our best to ensure the calligraphy fits your requirements.

Can I commission works using Eastern scripts/ideograms (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, etc.)?


The Calligraphy Society of Ottawa is focused on Western scripts, particularly those based on the Roman alphabet. We recommend contacting a community service centre for the appropriate locale if you're looking to commission works in Eastern/ideogram-based languages.

What type of calligraphy do your members perform?

Most calligraphers specialize in a few scripts however, because of the pool of talent within the CSO, most styles are possible. As for types of requests we fulfill; in the past, requests have included:

  • Designing wedding invitations
  • Addressing wedding envelopes
  • Lettering wedding vows
  • Lettering place cards, menus or poems
  • Designing and lettering corporate certificates
  • Completing memorial books for churches and other organizations
  • Designing presentations and awards for universities and other institutions
  • Completing inscriptions for family bibles etc.

There are many other areas where hand lettering craftsmanship will add the final touch. Contact us and see if one of our calligraphers can help with your idea.

How long will my request take?

Owing to limited time availability and the nature of the work and process involved in commissioning it, prospective patrons should get in touch with us as early as possible—preferably a month or more before your deadline, several if it is a large job. Timelines on shorter scales are possible for small, simple, and clearly-defined tasks from patrons with experience working with scribes.

Learning Calligraphy

How do I learn calligraphy?

The CSO conducts beginners courses and courses for more advanced students in addition to workshops. The courses are normally in Spring and Fall and are publicized in our website.

Our members also teach calligraphy courses in local schools or social centres.

Several of our members are long standing instructors who also teach privately.

View our upcoming courses and workshops pages or contact us to learn of any upcoming courses in the area for your level, or to make contact with an instructor. We also maintain a list (with their agreement) of those interested in learning calligraphy and we will contact them when we know more information on upcoming courses.

Where can I buy calligraphy supplies in Ottawa?

Unfortunately, local art stores only have basic supplies.

Most of us buy our supplies off the internet; our links section lists some trusted suppliers you may wish to consider. Contact us if you want recommendations on what to buy or if you are confused by the selection.

Will learning calligraphy improve my handwriting?

While instruction and practice in calligraphy may benefit your fine motor skills and understanding of the root of the letter forms, most types of calligraphy place the focus on the visual quality of the letters as opposed to speed. There is no shortage of calligraphers that can create beautiful letters but have messy handwriting.

One of the models for modern cursive handwriting was invented by Platt Rogers Spencer, and is thus known as Spencerian, but there are relatively few who are sufficiently advanced to teach it, and it requires a special instrument to write, making it impractical for everyday use.

Spencerian was replaced with the simpler Palmer Method, which can be written using a pencil, fountain pen or ballpoint—but this script is not generally considered to be calligraphic, and so isn't taught by most calligraphers. This is the script that has been taught as "cursive" in Western schools for the past 50+ years.

Another option is to learn a 16th century script called Italic, which can be "sped up" a little for practical use in handwriting, and while it can be written with a monoline tool like a ball-point or pencil, it is more elegant when written with a wedge-profiled fountain pen, which is the case for the majority of the examples on the site.

If no Italic courses or workshops are on offer, your only choice may be to seek private instruction. You can contact us if you'd like to inquire further on the subject.